Amazon has been the biggest force behind the huge surge in e-commerce sales during the holidays that begin with Thanksgiving and Black Friday.
However, in Europe Amazon was in the news for “Strike Friday” and not Black Friday, as some of the e-commerce giant’s employees were striking outside warehouses in Germany and Italy speaking out against a number of practices by the company they say endanger employee health, including areas such as performance controls and leadership culture.
Germany is the second largest market worldwide for Amazon following the U.S., and strikes in the European country took place at six locations. The strikes actually began earlier this week, and could go one throughout the weekend.
Workers in Italy, associated with three unions have been striking in only one location.
In Germany, unions are demanding that Amazon adopt a new framework for good and healthy work. There is rumor that some pressure has come from regulatory bodies as well in this protest in Germany.
One member of the board of one of Germany’s unions said that Amazon endangers its employee’s health with its method of working such as large amounts of pressure to create more over a lesser amount of time, permanent monitoring and performance controls, a poor culture of leadership and inadequate times for recovery.
A collective agreement would guarantee good and healthy working conditions, said the union. And necessary regulations should be created so employees are not exposed any longer to an employer that carries out its business at the expense of its employees’ health, wrote the union.
The union complaints in Italy were similar with union members saying that their dignity should not be trampled on and that Amazon must open a dialogue with the unions over employment stability, better salaries and industrial relations.
Amazon says that the vast majority of its employees in both Germany and Italy worked on Friday delivering a solid customer experience.
The protests were carried out at an important time for Amazon across the region. The company is continuing to lead the way in e-commerce and moving along very strong in cloud services, but its developments in voice interfaces and AI are laying new groundwork for it to play even more of a role in the digital lives of people.
However, Amazon has come under scrutiny for its way of handling taxes, and the impact it is have in some countries on small local businesses.